High Desert Apparitions for Soprano Saxophone and Piano

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High Desert Apparitions is inspired by the beautiful and mystical lands and traditions of the Native American people of Northern Arizona. It consists of three movements.

Shape Shifters (Skinwalkers or yee naaldlooshii) are evil creatures that appear as humans or as animals. This movement has the piano representing the human form and the saxophone representing coyotes, owls, foxes, and crows in that order. The human shape musically appears at the beginning and in between the animals. Multiphonics are used for some of the animal sounds.

Mirages is at a soft dynamic throughout with a lot of sustained sounds. The saxophone sustained sounds begin and end without vibrato with slight vibrato or timbre trills used in the middle of the sustained sound. The intent is to musically represent a vision of water that appears to be evaporating. All mirages are fleeting and the rapid passages in both the saxophone and piano musically represent impermanence.

Ancient Spirits is in two sections. The slower opening is atmospheric, evoking images of Native American flutes calling to the ancient spirits. The second section is chant-like and is influenced by recordings of Navajo Yeibichai songs. A Yeibichai is a supernatural represented by a masked dancer in an initiation or curative ceremony. The piano chords are dissonant and steady imitating the sound of drums. While the music is repetitive, there are subtle changes to the melodic material as well as the accompanying chords.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
10 minutes
Solo Soprano Saxophone + piano
Modern classical music
Instrumental parts

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Cover art for High Desert Apparitions for Soprano Saxophone and Piano

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